In addition to my well-documented fear of the dark, I’m pretty terrified of heights.
Okay, okay, REALLY terrified of heights.
In the spirit of adventure, and running with this whole fear-challenging theme that seemed to permeate my Costa Rican experience… I decided to try rappelling.
(Rappel is by definition to “descend a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled around the body and fixed at a higher point”)
But not just any rappelling – WATERFALL rappelling in Jaco.
Waterfall Rappelling in Jaco with Tinggly
Tinggly, the world’s best experiences in one gift box, has awesome adrenline-pumping opportunities for travelers around the world to challenge all kinds of fears (or relax with day spas and massages – if that’s more of your thing). But in this case, I went with the canyoning, ziplining, and waterfall rappelling in Jaco. Three fear-challenging experiences for the price of one!
I signed up for the experience, and received a handy email confirmation, reminding me of the pickup time and necessary items to bring. My awesome guides (Russ and Christian) arrived on time (actually, a few minutes early) and off we went!
After picking up an American couple (continuing the long line of third-wheeling I’d been doing in Costa Rica, usually an American couple + me), we headed to the ranch to begin our adventure.
The guides helped us get outfitted in our harnesses, double checking them for tightness, comfort, and safety (obviously not appearances though, check me out here)… and then we started on the hike.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it was tough. The hike up to the top of the waterfall was one of the most physically demanding activities I did during my entire trip in Costa Rica. After a few days in Monteverde and La Fortuna, with blissfully cool weather, I’d forgotten all about humidity and heat. This was a big, sweaty reminder about heat.
But it was so worth it! Once we reached the top of the hike, Russ and Christian demoed rappelling procedure, and then we each had the opportunity to practice before setting off on a zipline to the top of the waterfall.
the zipline from the top of the hike to the waterfall
Christian rappelled down first, and waited at the bottom for us, while Russ stayed at the top to help us down from the platform and into the waterfall.
the platform from which you step into oblivion
Once at the top of the waterfall, I realized how REALLY REALLY REALLY high it actually was. And my heart started pumping. Hard.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider backing out right then and there.
Thankfully, Russ calmed me down, and patiently talked me to the edge of the platform, and helped me babystep my way off the platform, into thin air, and onto the waterfall. I was really, obviously, nervous and anxious and scared, but Russ never made me feel embarrassed or rushed in any way. His attitude and professionalism really set me (and the other first-timers) up for success.
Once my feet hit the waterfall, and I got the hang of it, I really had fun.
the view from the bottom of the first waterfall looking up to the platform… eek
Thank goodness I didn’t back out!
Each participant rappelled down the waterfall one at a time, and then we met at the bottom.
me waiting for the others at the bottom
After that first waterfall, we had three more to go down!
Each consecutive waterfall felt easier, more natural, and enjoyable than the last – so doing 4 was awesome.
Only once, I sort of lost my footing and panicked, but the only thing that happened was I sort of dangled in the air and spun a little, before getting my feet back to the solid cliff face. No harm done!
After the last waterfall (and a scary “monkey-drop”), we hiked through the river and the woods. I felt like I was in Fern Gully..
Christian and Russ pointed out different plants and animals, everything from a plant that oozes red when you rub it,
trying my hand at rubbing red out of a leaf
to the “strangler” tree,
to leaf cutter ants and more.
From there, we took a few zip lines (so awesome, so fun, I wish my camera wouldn’t have died because the zip lines were super long and super slow, perfect for picture-taking) to the end. We finished up the tour with some relaxation and delicious fruit and juice.
We were all delivered back to our hotels in one piece, I conquered my heights fear just a little bit more, and I learned a new love for waterfall rappelling.
Not only can I not wait to do it again (I’ve been trying to find a waterfall rappelling tour everywhere I go, but it’ll be tough to match this one!) – it’s already tops in my plans for my return to Costa Rica.
And of all the many tours and adrenaline-packed adventures I took part in while traveling around Costa Rica, this waterfall rappelling trip was my FAVORITE!
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Remember to wear bug spray. I’d recommend also wearing a bug bracelet or bringing the bug spray with you as well, as all the time in the waterfall is going to wash it right off. The bugs were BITING!
Comfortable, non slip shoes that can get wet are a must. I LOVED my Vibrams for this, they were absolutely perfect. You’re sticking your feet straight into a waterfall, and you need good traction so that you don’t slip and bonk into the cliff. Keep it in mind.
Bring a waterproof camera (you can get a Nikon Coolpix for under $100) or a camera you wouldn’t freak out over if it got splashed – you’ll definitely want photos. My Nikon 1 AW1 was perfect for this!
Our guides had dry bags for us, but I brought my own, and I’d recommend doing the same just in case there are a lot of participants on the day you go.
You can book this experience through Tinggly here, and it includes pick up from Jaco area hotels, including Room2Board and Balcon del Mar.
Interested in more Jaco area adventures and advice? Click here
*I am a Tinggly ambassador and went on this excursion for free, but this post was not compensated and as always my opinions and advice are unbiased and unaltered*